WOOSTER, Ohio — A Wooster High School student with special needs stole the show at Monday night’s varsity baseball game against Revere.
Joey McGhee,17, and his infectious smile are no stranger to the baseball field. He’s the team’s bat boy this season.
“The response when Joey walks in the dugout is, it’s like a celebrity has just walked in the building,” Wooster head baseball coach and teacher Steve Young said.
Young said he wanted to do something special for Joey, who has Down syndrome. So, Young got in touch with a friend who coaches at Revere and began making plans to start Joey as lead-off hitter Monday.
After a couple of strikes, Joey connected with the ball, sending it down the first base line. Joey took off, rounding first and sliding into second.
“He told me he was just like Michael Brantley,” Young said.
To cheers of “keep running” from the packed stands, Joey ended up making it all the way home and into the arms of his cheering teammates.
“I was happy, and I [did] a dance,” said Joey. “I hit hard, like my friends.”
An avid sports fan, Joey has been at all home games this season and said this was a dream come true. Joey has been showing off the home-run ball and even offering autographs.
“He’s an integral part of our team,” Young said, also thanking Revere’s team. “He’s a teammate, we don’t really look at him as a bat.”
Joey’s father, Paul McGhee, said the family is grateful for the acceptance they’ve found in the Wooster community and thankful for support from Wooster High School and its staff.
“I don’t know if you can describe that moment; it was special,” McGhee said of the game.
“We moved here 10 years ago and you can’t pray it better. It was a special day.”
Joey’s leadoff home run helped lead Wooster to an 8-4 win.